Henderson tries to block land deal in stadium project, citing fraud concerns
29 November 2012
29 Nov. 2012 8:30 p.m.
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Henderson city officials are trying to block developer Chris Milam from acquiring the land needed for his proposed sports-arena complex, claiming the sale might be “tainted” with fraud.
Milam is backing off his plans for the Las Vegas National Sports Complex and is marketing the property near M Resort to other developers, according to the city. Milam has allegedly said in marketing materials that even if sports facilities aren’t built, mixed-use and residential projects can still be developed.
Henderson City Attorney Josh Reid, in a letter dated Nov. 29, asked U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials to quash the agency’s sale of about 480 acres to Milam’s Silver State Land LLC. According to Reid, Milam deposited the balance of the purchase price into escrow on Wednesday.
However, Reid noted that City Hall received a letter Wednesday night — marked “hand delivered” and signed by Milam — that said his development group now believes the stadium project is “not viable,” and as a result, the group is terminating the master project agreement.
Nevertheless, Milam also said in his letter that his group is “fully committed to achieving development of the arena complex and accompanying development,” adding they’ll “continue to spend significant time and resources to achieve this goal.”
City officials now believe the land-sale, which Milam won the rights to with a $10.56 million bid, “may not be valid and appears to be tainted by fraudulent representations” to the city and BLM by Milam, his agents and his business entities, Reid said in Thursday’s letter. Milam and his group have been “actively promoting” the land for prospective residential development, “in direct contravention” of the BLM deal, he wrote.
Reid was sworn in as city attorney in early January, about four months after the City Council approved an initial project agreement with Milam’s group and voted to support the BLM land-sale.
Milam did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday night. A BLM spokesperson could not immediately be reached to comment on the city’s letter.
Milam’s stadium plans have been viewed skeptically, partly because he proposed several other Las Vegas Valley sports deals that flopped. Last year, for instance, he said he wanted to buy the Las Vegas 51s minor-league baseball club and that he would build a stadium for them near the Strip, but he never acquired the team.
Also, no teams have said they would move to Milam’s project site. Building a speculative U.S. sports arena or stadium — let alone a cluster of them, as Milam envisioned — is practically unheard of, given their huge price tags. Pro teams in general are also wary of moving to the casino and sports-betting capital of America.
Milam’s group began formal discussions about the sports complex with Henderson city officials last July. His companies announced in February that Shenzhen, China-based China Security & Surveillance Technology had tentatively agreed to finance a $650 million, 17,500-seat indoor arena suitable for a basketball team.
Once the arena was completed, Milam planned to build three other stadiums that could host soccer, baseball and football contests. Their combined price was expected to be well north of $1 billion.
He told the City Council in April that the China Security financing was “fully approved,” and that construction of the indoor arena could begin as soon as October.
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